Without light truck and delivery drivers, also called couriers, we might never see the merchandise we've ordered online. These professional drivers pick up and deliver packages to residences and businesses. While their jobs can be dangerous because they are on the road in all kinds of weather, couriers can typically find jobs without any formal education. Success on the job relies on strong customer service, multi-tasking and time-management skills.
Customer Service Duties
Couriers pick up and deliver packages within an assigned territory. They are usually in constant contact with dispatchers, who take calls from customers throughout the day and assign drivers to pickups and deliveries. Drivers are responsible for securing signatures when required and keeping records of all pickups and deliveries. The main thrust of the work is to deliver all assigned packages within a specific time frame.
One of your main administrative duties as a courier is planning your route. Typically, a driver will select the section of town or city to start the day and plug addresses into a GPS, or global positioning system. You must also organize the packages and documents in your truck for easier access and in order of deliveries. At times, you may field calls about lost packages or complaints about damaged goods. You may also arrange for the cleaning and servicing of your truck.
Expect to work long hours as a courier at certain times of the year. Christmas season is your busiest time, when you may work some evenings or weekends. The job is stressful as customers expect packages to arrive at friends and relatives' homes before the holiday. To complicate matters, you can be slowed by inclement weather and traffic jams. About 19 percent of courier drivers work for unions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which typically means better benefits and job security.
Education and Training
Courier companies usually prefer hiring drivers with at least a high school education or GED. Your training occurs mostly on the job. You may spend one to two weeks working in the field with a supervisor learning operational procedures before being assigned a territory. You must have a valid driver's license and you may need a commercial driver's license if you drive large semi trucks long distance.
Light truck and delivery service drivers earned average annual salaries of $33,120 as of May 2011, according to the BLS. If you are in the top 10 percent, you can make over $58,440 per year. The top-paying states for these drivers were Alaska, Maryland and Delaware -- at $43,010, $37,330 and $36,900 per year, respectively.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Couriers and Messengers
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Light Truck or Delivery Services Drivers
- CareerPlanner.com: Couriers and Messenger
- Education-Portal.com: Professional Couriers: Job Duties and Information About Becoming a Professional Courier
- U.S. News & World Report: Money: Delivery Truck Driver Reviews
- Fox News: Best and worst jobs for your health